U.S. House to Ship $51 Million to First Coast Naval Bases
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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to send more than $51 million to the First Coast to help prepare Mayport to house a nuclear aircraft carrier and to prepare Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) to accommodate the new P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
The funds, part of the Fiscal 2012 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, passed on a 411-5 vote. Florida Republican Ander Crenshaw, who serves on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, steered them to the First Coast.
“Mayport nuclearization funds move forward today with a strong boost from the full U.S. House of Representatives,” said Crenshaw. “Next stop is the United States Senate where I fully expect the Armed Services Committee and Appropriations Committee to agree with top defense and military personnel and approve the funds.”
In May, the House Armed Services Committee voted to gut funding allocated for the improvements Mayport needs to shelter a carrier. U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee and who was looking to ensure Norfolk would be the only naval base on the East Coast with a nuclear carrier, crowed that slashing $30 million in funding from Mayport would help the Old Dominion.
Crenshaw was able to get the funding back on track for the First Coast, noting that many experts and Pentagon brass continue to insist that America needs two bases on the Atlantic to port nuclear-powered carriers. While Mayport has traditionally housed aircraft carriers, none has been stationed there since 2007, when the USS John F. Kennedy was decommissioned.
“Years of analysis, study and review at the highest levels make an ironclad case that the East Coast needs two nuclear aircraft carrier home ports – one of them in Jacksonville,” added Crenshaw, who first won election to Congress in 2000. “I have always agreed and will fight on until the day a carrier sails into home port at Naval Station Mayport.”
The final bill that the House passed Tuesday includes $14.98 million set aside for projects needed to ready Mayport to serve as home port for a nuclear carrier, with the door remaining open for additional projects that may be needed.
The House also approved sending $25.98 million to NAS Jax for a training facility for the P-8A Poseidon aircrafts, while sending more than $6 million to NAS Jax to update the hangars for the new planes. The Navy plans to use the new P-8A aircraft from Boeing to track and combat submarines from the air. They will replace the P-3 Orions -- a familiar sight in First Coast skies for decades.
The House also approved sending almost $4.5 million for an unmanned aerial system for maritime surveillance to be based at NAS Jax.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.